| By Kelly Torpey, Marketing Manager, Gale, a Cengage Company |
Thoughts, tips, tricks, and hacks
As professionals, we’re constantly seeking advice and best practices. I often attend conferences and browse the internet in hopes that they can offer that one nugget of inspiration that enables me to do my job better.
When we find something that works, our natural inclination is to share it! So, I’ve compiled thoughts, tips, and tricks that may be helpful as you determine how to reach new cardholders.
Let’s get started!
Specify your goal and determine what success looks like
Every plan should have clearly defined goals. In this case, you’re looking to get people to the library. Simple, right? As we know, that’s not always the case. These are people who have not engaged with the library for years and they may require some hand holding. While you’re determining your goal, think about what success looks like. How are you going to measure your efforts? Percent increase of new cardholders? By the number of registrants for a certain library program? It’s one thing to have a goal, but make sure that the steps you take to achieve that goal are measurable. This will allow you to show the value and essentialness of your work.
Define your target audience
Your audience is made up of people who don’t have library cards. Yet, there’s more to it than that. You must consider: How do I find these people and get their contact information and how can I send them relevant marketing communications based on their unique interests and my unique programming offerings?
There lies the eternal dilemma that all marketers and organizations face! We’re all looking for the most complete customer view, and find it difficult to get there. So, how do you get to a place where you can better understand your customers/patrons? There are tools available, such as Analytics On Demand, which integrates your library’s patron/ILS data with powerful demographics from Experian—filling in the gaps regarding who is a patron, and who is not. The interactive dashboard allows you to easily manipulate your data and export household addresses to send targeted marketing communications.
Consider further segmenting your audience
Research shows that people demand a personalized customer experience. It’s one thing to say “non-cardholders.” It’s an entirely different campaign when you can specify “non-cardholders interested in ‘travel’ or ‘entrepreneurship,’” because maybe those are the programming initiatives you’re trying to support. Experian, the consumer credit reporting agency, uses a methodology that classifies all households in the United States into one of 71 lifestyle segments. Nearly every consuming household is characterized by these Mosaics and tools, such as Analytics On Demand, leveraging the methodology to allow marketers like you to better understand their community, segment their patrons based on interest, checkout data, income, and more. Libraries are embracing these Mosaics to segment their audiences in a way that gives them their best ROI. Take look at how Toledo Lucas County Public Library is accomplishing it.
Choose a marketing “vehicle”
Email? Direct mail? Perhaps a combination of the two? Much of this depends on the audience and how they consume information/content. Those interested in travel and/or entrepreneurship might be between 20 and 30 years of age and more likely to respond to an email than a printed piece of collateral. You may want to try a Facebook Ad, for example, they’re relatively inexpensive and Facebook provides some easy and effective ways to interpret analytics. You can also go out in your community and attend an event where your target audience would be.
Craft your message
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the breadth of information available regarding email messaging—and messaging in general—so I put together a list of what I’ve found to be most helpful:
- Tie your campaign to an event, holiday, or anything that is relevant to the person you’re sending it to. For example, Library Card Sign-up Month. Use catchy headlines or email subject lines to express a sense of urgency like, “Don’t Forget!,” because people respond to it.
- Address your messaging more like an invitation to make your audience feel as special as you think they are. Research shows that announcements and invitations have higher open rates.
- Subject lines. If you’re looking for 101 of the best email subject lines Google can help. But, in essence, the goal is to keep it simple. Use less than 40 characters for two reasons: it gets cut off when in view and people tend to skim the subject line rather than read every word. Think “The Smartest Card in Your Wallet.”
- Partner with local businesses and offer exclusive promotions for those with a library card. This may help to funnel them back to you. But remember, make sure you can track that movement.
- Include a call-to-action. Take them somewhere! Whether it’s online or at your physical location, make sure you can measure your efforts. Doing so will demonstrate the ROI of your efforts.
- Get creative help. Take a look at a free resource called Canva. It’s inspirational and user-friendly. Just be sure to keep your ideas on brand. It’s easy to get carried away!
Measure your IMPACT
Remember when you were defining your goal? Here’s when it comes into play. For email, services like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Eloqua, for larger companies/institutions, allow you to manage engagement (open rates, click through, etc.). You can even test different imagery and messaging to see what your audience responds to best. For print promotions, did you remember your CTA (call-to-action)? Did you have people sign up for a library card? Register for an event online?